A few weeks ago I grabbed lunch with an old friend. We went to California Pizza Kitchen and I remembered how much I loved their Thai Chicken Pizza! We actually used to make a homemade version all the time and some how that dropped off our dinner rotation! (Yes, I plan dinners for the week! Some people might think this is a bit OCD, but it actually helps me stay organized and also not to spend way more than I need to at the grocery store every week! It also definitely helps cut out that 5pm slump where I'm standing in the kitchen going back and forth wondering what to make for dinner!)
Our three year old loves pizza and after realizing how long it had actually been since we'd made this kind, I decided to put this on the menu the other week! I know some of you are probably thinking, a three year old eating hoisin sauce and bean sprouts? YES, he has a pretty sophisticated palate (thank goodness, no pickiness here!) He actually loves spicy food too! He's had his fair share of Thai curry, fights with me over the pickled ginger when we eat sushi, and the more hoisin sauce he can put in his pho, the better!
This pizza is super easy to make, and you can easily use a store bought dough and leftover chicken! This pizza would be great grilled too!
Thai Chicken Pizza
- 2 chicken breasts
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 green onion, chopped
- crushed peanuts (optional)
- crushed red pepper (optional)
- If you are using raw pizza dough, prepare as instructed on the package. If you are using a pre-made dough (naan bread is also a great base to make pizza with too! We use those a lot, especially when we want to make several different varieties) preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- Prepare the chicken breast. Simply salt and pepper the chicken, and grill or saute on the stove. Cut into small cubes or slices. (We had grilled Hawaiian chicken the night before, which was marinated in a mixture of ginger, brown sugar and soy sauce. It actually brought out tons of flavor in the pizza, but a simple grilled chicken will work just fine!)
- In a small sauce pan, drizzle some olive oil into the pan and saute the ginger and garlic. Add in the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and sweet chili sauce and stir. Mix in some water to the desired consistency of the sauce you'd like (I find that 2 tbsp should be plenty). You don't really want the sauce to be runny.
- Spread the sauce on the dough and layer with chicken, mozzarella cheese, bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions, and really whatever other veggies you'd like! (It's also great with sliced carrots, but we ran out!)
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Top with crushed peanuts or for added spice add crushed red pepper! Enjoy!
Today is the last day of school for the kids in our county! I know Summer doesn't officially begin until June 21, but with the kids already starting to run around, fireworks going off on random nights, and the occasional spotting of the ice cream truck, it's safe to say summer is here!
I made myself a new cup (surprise surprise!) but decided to make one with a cute saying on it rather than an image. My husband always jokes that I am a Southerner. Yes, I know I'm from Virginia (born and raised in the DC area, and probably one of the few Asians you'll ever meet that actually says ya'll every now and then! ) but, if you have ever been to Northern Virginia you will find that it is quite different from the rest of the state! (I have to laugh every time I see this, or a similar post floating around on Facebook! It's all spot on! ha!) But anyways, I digress! Back to one of my "Southern" traits! I love sweet tea! So of course it was only fitting that I made myself a summer cup for it!
We'll be moving in TWO WEEKS! What am I looking most forward to this summer, besides getting settled into the new house? Sitting on our brand new porch, watching the kiddies play, and drinking my sweet tea (and maybe even adding a bit of Firefly into it!)
Since the majority of my sewing machines and supplies have been packed up, I've been spending a lot of time with vinyl. My favorite thing to vinyl are reusable cups! When I was pregnant, drinking water was probably one of my least favorite things to do, but HAD to do. I was one of those lucky pregnant women who didn't really get to enjoy food- everything left an awful taste in my mouth, especially if I had too many carbs or sweets. This probably helped me keep my weight down that's for sure! Water wasn't easy- no amount of fresh lemon or lime helped! It was a huge victory every time I could chug a glass of water down!
I had found this large 24 oz double wall tumbler on sale and decided it was perfect for guzzling down the 60oz a day! I ended up decorating the cup with a cute owl to kind of offset all the pink and purple! (The owl came from the Silhouette store and is a Miss Kate Cuttables design- I love her stuff!!)
One of the other cups that I worked on was for my husband's birthday, which was back in May. He had been wanting one of those fruit infusion cups too. I decided to decorate his with his favorite hockey team's logo on it as part of his gift.
And lastly, I couldn't leave our 3 year old out! Every time he saw my husband or I with our cups, he'd ask for one too! I found these blank kids mason jar tumblers at Target and decided to personalize one for him for Easter! (I wish I had stocked up on more of the kids cups because not only are they colored, which are hard to find, they are completely smooth all the way around, so there is plenty of space to vinyl! I have found that many mason jar tumblers are limited in that there is always one side that has some kind of raised design on them!) Since he loves sharks I found an image that I was able to duplicate and make for himself! (Can I tell you how hard it is to find a shark that isn't so scary looking!)
Last summer I participated in a buy for some floating lockets. These have become quite a trend, but I know not a lot of people want to spend the money that comes with the more popular brand. (Myself being one of those people! As a stay at home mom, I rarely spend money on novelty jewelry so this was definitely a much more affordable option for me!) After buying several with the group and having people compare it to the "name brand" the consensus was that they couldn't tell the difference! I decided to continue buying a few just to have on hand for those who wish to purchase accessories through me! These are great because the charms can be switched out easily so you aren't limited to only wearing them with certain outfits!
And here are a few examples of some orders:
After I had my second son, I decided to finally make myself a locket too!
Very rarely does my husband ever come to me with suggestions on food items he wants me to make! He came across a post on Reddit a few weeks ago that happened to be for campfire cones and immediately told me we had to do it for dessert one day! Apparently these have been around for ages, but for some reason I have been seeing them pop up more and more on cooking and crafting blogs just recently!
By no means do you have to do them on the grill or over a campfire! But if you're already grilling something, it beats turning the oven and waiting for it to preheat when you can just pop them on the grill with the rest of your food for a few minutes!
These are really easy! Just dice up some fruit, gather some mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips and layer in an ice cream cone (we had sugar cones on hand, but I'm thinking next time a waffle cone might be better suited to load up more goodies!) Wrap it up in foil, and grill for about five minutes! Voila! What you get is a gooey, yummy mess! There are so many flavor possibilities to try too! I'm thinking next time we do this of trying out some white chocolate or even cinnamon chips and adding small dollops of Nutella, Biscoff or even peanut butter in to create more gooey madness!
I know it's been a while since I've written a post! I had a small glitch and was unable to upload photos for the longest time and since I'm not the slightest bit tech savvy I had to rely on my husband to fix it for me! But it's been a bit of a whirlwind around here that having a photo uploaded onto the blog was the least of my husbands concerns!
I can't believe it's already June and the year is half over! Biggest news of all was we had our little boy back in April! Big brother has been absolutely enamored with him! He's been super helpful and loving all the opportunities to help feed the baby, read to him, "help" change his diaper, and he's constantly telling us all the things he'll be teaching his baby brother when he gets bigger! We've been fortunate that the adjustment to settling in as a family of four has been very easy!
The second big news is that we are moving! (Word to the wise, moving and having a baby at the same time is definitely not ideal!) Originally the baby and new house were scheduled to be only about two weeks apart! YIKES! But the winter was so incredibly long that the house was behind schedule- a blessing in disguise really! So, fortunately we were able to at least enjoy a couple of weeks before the house went onto the market after the baby arrived! It worked out for the best because then we weren't moving and unpacking while I was trying to recover from a c-section! The move is a little bittersweet. This is my husband and I's first home together. We bought this house before we had even got married, and it's the house that we brought both our babies home to! So on that level I'm sad to see it go BUT I'm ecstatic for the memories that we'll create in the dream house we've built together for our boys!
I'm hoping to get the shop back up and running with some new items in July! If you've been following me on Facebook then you've gotten glimpses of some small things I've been able to work on! I've had the majority of my sewing supplies packed up since January, so I've only been able to work with vinyl lately! Lots of ideas on products for the last six months or so have been spinning in my head and I've been itching to get them made! I'm definitely anxious to get my new studio set up! We'll see how quickly that'll happen once we move (mid-June)!
As I'm sure many have noticed my blog and activity on my Facebook page have been pretty few and far between the last several months! Honestly I have no idea where the summer and fall have gone!! Well, the cat's out of the bag as to why I've been so absent, so figured it was only fair to share it with my Crafty Natalie supporters as well! We are expecting our second this spring! And wouldn't you know that the week before we found out we were pregnant we put a deposit on a lot for a new house! Sooo...baby and new house will be within a month of each other! Talk about exciting times! That said I know I've been asked on numerous occasions about why I am scaling back on custom orders and why my shop isn't getting restocked as often! Well, between the first trimester kicking my butt, and taking care of my mother (who was not in the greatest of health earlier this year) my priorities were obviously NOT Crafty Natalie! But, that's the best part of having your own small shop! You can maintain the pace of workload you'd like and even though I don't enjoy turning people down, sometimes it's an absolute must in order to keep my sanity! I just want to thank everyone who has been so understanding with why orders took longer than normal! I also wanted to update everyone on where I stand with my shop and orders! As of this moment I will no longer be taking custom orders (most likely will not resume custom orders till after the new baby comes and we are settled into our new home). I know this is a long time but between getting our current house ready to sell, getting ready for the new baby, and moving, I can't keep all of my equipment/supplies out! (I know, I'm already going through withdrawals just thinking about it! But the good news is, once we are in the new house I have an entire loft devoted to be my studio! I swear, I have the most awesome hubby ever!) I have a holiday show coming up and then will be listing some items for sale so that no one misses out on any new inventory or holiday sales! And, as always, if you are local, you can always find Crafty Natalie items at EarthWorks Gallery and Gift Shop in Lovettsville!
And, on another note, this was one project I finally managed to work on for myself- B's big brother announcement shirt! I didn't want the typical big bro shirt. I also loved the idea of the "only child expiring" but Pinterest really seemed to kick that trend off that I was a little hesitant of using that as our way of announcing! So I did a slight play off of it and did a sports theme! Since we are a hockey family it was only fitting that I incorporated that into the theme! I had some spare long sleeves and used my Cameo to cut heat transfer vinyl and got started on the design for B's shirt. I used the NHL font for the wording and added the hockey puck into the picture! I also added the hockey player. (The puck and player are both in the Silhouette store for purchase!)
(Sad, I originally wrote this post back in September and am just now getting around to posting it!! Apologies for being so absent on the blog lately!)
Lately I've been seeing this more and more on Facebook pages. Where people will go onto other people's business pages and direct traffic in sales items to their own page/site! Maybe it's just me, but I find this marketing strategy extremely tacky and rude. I may not be running my Etsy shop as a full time job, but I certainly respect others who are!! There are plenty of shops out there who create the same stuff as me, never in a million years would I think that it'd be ok to go onto their page or comment on their pictures telling THEIR customers/fan base to come to my page or that I can make it for them for cheaper!! I realize the internet gives some people the sense of anonymity that they feel this kind of behavior is acceptable, but in reality, I feel it makes you out to be like the sleazy car salesman looking to make that quick buck! I personally try not to support a business who uses these tactics.
Another thing that bothers me is people who take the easy way out and "borrow" (and I use this term very loosely!) other people's pictures! I understand you can probably create an item, and if you can, why not show your OWN work that YOU created?!! Wouldn't you want to know that your item will turn out in similar fashion from the idea that you "borrowed?" And if you've already created it before, it takes all of five minutes to get a picture! Just do your own thing! It makes YOU look BETTER in the end!! Don't you find that going through the hassle of removing someones watermark would take just as much time as taking a quick snapshot of your own product?! I get it, some items are whole sale and you're only left with the factory's images. Even still wouldn't it look better for your business if you simply stated that the image is "courtesy of?" Trust me, I've had pictures stolen off my site before. I understand it should be a form of flattery, but at the same time it sucks. Someone else is getting credit for something that you put time, money, blood, sweat, and maybe even tears into! It's just the right thing to do people!!!!
Next up, craft shows. We've all done them or have thought about doing them. These shows take a LOT of time and energy. Just the way you are going to display your items is challenging enough! My first show I had NO IDEA what to expect, but I got there, sat by a fellow sewist and got some pointers from her! First shows can be so nerve wracking, having someone there you can relate to makes all the difference! Each show, no matter how big or small is absolutely a learning experience! Some items that you sold out of at one show, will sit the entire time for the next show! One of the last shows I did, I was kind've thrown by a couple people who came to my table. One of the first girls that showed up looked at one of my baby sets and was like, "OH, that's soooo easy, I can make this!" I had another person yell across the way to her friend and was like, "You can totally do this too for much cheaper" And finally, the really fun shopper- the one that picks up one of your items, then proceeds to tell it for the entire venue to hear, "I got this from another vendor last year for half the price!" Well, good for you girl, guess you got an awesome deal!! I don't think that most shoppers realize that when they say these things, it's VERY insulting. I get that you might be able to make it, but do you realize that you've just put me down? I don't think my prices are too unreasonable, I've seen plenty of other shops who have sold items similar to mine at DOUBLE the cost! Maybe I'm not confident enough to have such price increases yet, and honestly know what I would be willing to pay for something and feel it's only fair to my customers to charge no more than what I'd be comfortable paying! I've seen people slash prices at craft shows towards the last bit of the show. This drives me NUTS! I understand you probably don't want to haul everything back home, but do you realize that you make handmade look so bad when you've cut your prices to lower than what material costs would even be?! All for the sake of not having to pack up or heck, just make an extra 5 bucks? I had a complaint once that one of my bags was too expensive. It was a larger style tote bag that uses around 3 yards of fabric. I had a pre-made bag in the style she wanted listed on sale for $50. This particular person wanted a custom made one, fabrics that she chose, which were all designer prints averaging $12 a yard (not to mention shipping since I couldn't get the fabric locally). I would also need about a yard of fusible fleece, which generally runs about $8 a yard, as well as 2 yards of stabilizer, which is about $2 a yard. Add on a spool of thread to match the fabric at $3. That brings the total of this particular custom bag to $51. I had quoted the bag at $65 because she happened to be a friend of a friend, but the customer felt that she should only be charged the $50. Mind you, I had mentioned that custom orders may vary in price depending on materials chosen. I told her the only way I'd be able to drop the price that low was if she swapped out her interior fabric for something not as expensive, but she wouldn't budge, and ultimately I couldn't as well. Was it worth it to me to even consider making this bag for barely $15 in profit, no. But I was trying to help a friend out and in the end no one won. I know, a lot of people think handmade should equal cheaper costs, but I think those people who assume that have obviously never shopped textiles before! Yes, of course you can run to your local Joann's or Hancock fabrics and find some fabrics for as low as $4.99 a yard. YES, it's exhilarating to find good fabric at these shops for so cheap!! But, if you've been sewing for a while, you'll also realize that there's a world outside of these chain fabric stores and you start indulging in some designer cuts that go upwards of more than $15 a yard! And then when you discover international fabric- Japanese imports?! YES PLEASE! Yes, there is a difference in the quality. For those of us who sew on a daily basis we can feel it, heck we can smell it! And when we buy that $30 a yard fabric cut, it's like holding gold!! So when we create items out of some of these beloved prints and someone tells you that it's so easy to make or it should be cheaper, it hurts!
And the last thing I have to get off my chest. We all have to learn right?! I cannot tell you how many emails/texts/phone calls I get asking me how to do something. Trust me, I try to keep up with my blog but it's just not possible and life gets ahead of me and I cannot write tutorials for everything, especially because a simple search will give you a bazillion tutorials in whatever area you are looking for! Some of us do this as a full time job. Some of us do it as an extra source of income. Some of us do it as a creative outlet. One thing we probably all have in common is we aren't trying to go broke working on projects and doing the stuff that we love most! My husband pointed out to me the other day, these people, whether they are friends, acquaintances, or perfect strangers are essentially my competitors, so why do I feel compelled to help them out in the extent that I have been. (And maybe that's my own stupidity, niceness, whatever you want to call it, spending hours on ends helping others and ultimately giving up my own work time). Essentially I'm saying, here you go, take what I've spent hours working on and make it out like it's your own. Yes. It's happened. I gotta say it stings just a bit when you've given someone the directions, exact measurements on how to make something that they wanted to create for (supposedly) their child, and that you had no idea they were actually going to recreate for sale purposes! If my specialty WAS creating patterns FOR RESALE then this would not be an issue, but that is not my area!! I'm sure many of us can attest to spending hours on end, cutting, re-creating, throwing away valuable materials, sitting on the computer creating designs to have a final result that you are 100% completely satisfied with! I think a lot of people who purchase handmade forget that creativity also equals TIME!! And, time is not free!
I know a lot of people are looking for flourless desserts so I thought I'd share something that my mom used to make all the time growing up! In Vietnamese it's called banh khoi mi, which is essentially cassava coconut cake! I've made this numerous times this summer as it's one of my nephews favorite treats. I tried getting the "real" recipe from my mom but we all know she doesn't use recipes and just starts mixing things together! I tried as best as I could to get all the real measurements one time and eventually came up with this!
- 1 16 oz package of frozen grated cassava
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3.5 ounces of sweetened condensed milk (about half a can)
- 1 cup coconut milk (if you want it to be more coconutty, you can also add a bit of coconut cream too!)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Thaw and drain grated cassava. (The best way to drain the cassava is to use a paper towel to soak up the excess liquid from the cassava).
- Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. You can spray a round baking pan with non-stick spray, or if you'd like a crunchier outside crust on the cake you can butter the pan; pour mixed batter into baking pan.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour.
Back around the holidays last year I came across a product that I thought was really cute and such a great concept! It was a toy car wallet that held up to four Matchbox type cars. I knew this was something I'd eventually want, but since B hadn't turned two yet I didn't know how much I'd need one just yet so I didn't bother buying it. I have friends who have boys and I know it was something that would come in handy because they always had a bag of cars in their purses ready to pull out in those "in case of emergency" type scenarios to keep their boys occupied, especially during lunch/dinner outings!
When we were planning our Disney trip I knew we'd need a backpack filled with activities to keep B busy on the 2 hour plane ride! Him falling asleep would've been ideal, but lets face it, doing something new would be far more exciting than napping! I decided to try and wing it and whipped up this car clutch just a few days before leaving for vacation! I'd made several different types of wallets before so it was fairly easy for me to sew without having a pattern to go by! I was a bit nervous about trying to figure out the pleated pockets, but it actually was a lot easier than I anticipated! I also used fusible fleece and regular interfacing so that the wallet would be a bit stiffer. I think the pockets are slightly larger than I need them to be, but they aren't overly bulky so they will fit some of the toy trains and other larger cars that he has! I'm thinking about tweaking the pattern a bit and adding a little slip in pocket on the other side that way other things can be tucked into the clutch as well! This little toy car clutch definitely came in handy on our trip and B even loved "parking" his cars when we were at the hotel! I've seen versions of two pocket wallets and I'm thinking one of those would be good just to keep in my purse! I'm also in the process of making a "purse" one for little girls to carry their small dollies in! Post on that one coming soon!